Sheriff candidates refuse to be questioned by The Citizen

Mon, 06/30/2008 - 11:10am
By: Cal Beverly

Candidates in all other major local races are participating in the online forum

The four candidates for Fayette County sheriff Monday refused to participate in The Citizen’s Online Political Forum.

The candidates — Barry Babb, Wayne Hannah, Thomas Mindar and David Simmons — jointly signed a typed letter, and all four delivered it to the offices of The Citizen Monday morning.

As of noon Monday, candidates for Fayette County Commission, Fayette County Board of Education, Fayette tax commissioner, Fayette probate judge, district attorney and legislative offices have responded to The Citizen’s invitation to answer questions.

Here are the questions from The Citizen that the four men running for Fayette’s top law enforcement job refused to answer:

Questions for ALL candidates for Fayette sheriff:

1. What is the extent of Fayette County’s “gang problem” currently and how do you specifically plan to address it?

2. Are the department's responses to crime in Fayette right now just about right or do they need improvement?

3. What are the department’s biggest weaknesses and how do you specifically plan to address them?

4. What are the department’s greatest strengths, and how will you build on them?

5. Three of the four candidates work for the sheriff’s department now. After the summer primary, should the unsuccessful deputies start looking for other jobs? What is your philosophy on dealing with in-department opponents after you win?

6. Describe in detail how you will do things differently than Sheriff Johnson has done them. Or do you intend NOT to do things differently?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Questions for specific candidates:


1. Some have questioned your credentials after your website did not mention your time working for the Georgia Building Authority. Tell us why that was omitted and provide details of your job title and day-to-day duties. Also provide details of why you resigned/quit/were downsized or fired from the position.

2. You have touted your FBI training as proof that you are better prepared. Please explain what aspects of that training you want to apply to the way the sheriff’s office enforces law in Fayette County.

3. Previously, you had a testimonial on your website from Ike McKinnon, who served as chief for several years while you were his chief of staff at the Detroit Police Department. After a blogger started questioning Mr. McKinnon’s motives in an apparently scandal-plagued police department, Mr. McKinnon’s testimonial was removed from your website. Could you explain why, in detail, you decided to remove the letter of recommendation from Mr. McKinnon, who called you a good friend?

4. You have alleged that Fayette County has had a dramatic spike in commercial and residential burglaries, but according to the sheriff’s office Fayette is on track to have just 13 more burglaries this calendar year compared to last calendar year. Assuming those numbers are accurate, how do you explain how your data is “off”? Or do you feel comfortable your data is correct and charge that the sheriff’s department’s data is inaccurate?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -


1. Will your wife continue to work for the sheriff’s office if you are elected? If so, how do you plan to address the inevitable problem of conflict of interest, whether real or perceived?

2. Have you — as charged by some — been campaigning in uniform and using your department vehicle for campaign work? If so, how do you justify the use of a taxpayer-funded vehicle? Did you get permission from the sheriff to do so?

3. Please explain your side of the scenario where you went to a man’s house to talk to him about political sign issues; (this issue was detailed in a letter to the editor several weeks ago); the letter writer accused you of attempting to intimidate him but a blogger said you actually know the letter writer and that he is a neighbor you are acquainted with.

4. Please explain your alleged recent “visit” to the sheriff’s department’s roll call in terms of who requested it and what it accomplished? Was the same opportunity extended to all candidates?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -


1. You have been accused of being “too religious” by some observers, and one blogger said you have bible classes at the sheriff’s office. Is this true and why do you consider it to be appropriate?

2. Should Fayette County continue its practice of aggressively pursuing fleeing suspects at high speeds in vehicle chases, or do you think such actions endanger the motoring public?

3. Of all four candidates, you have lived in Fayette County the longest. Will you be able to set aside your friendships and personal relationships to be a fair and partial administrator? Please explain in detail how you plan to handle such issues.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -


1. A fellow deputy and a former one have called into question several interactions they’ve had with you that call into question your ability to control your temper. Characterize your temperament and your ability to stay cool when things are getting hot.

2. Compared to the other candidates you appear to have the least amount of experience in law enforcement. Others have said you lack any supervisory experience. How do you respond to those observations and how are you prepared to handle the gravity of administrative duties that are the sheriff’s responsibility?

3. On your website you indicate that you want to increase proactive and aggressive patrols. Do you plan to hire new deputies for these positions or do you plan to reassign current deputies to handle that workload? Also, please give us numbers in terms of how many patrol cars are out there now and how many you would like to see on the road.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Following is the joint letter from the four candidates:

“The candidates for the Office of Sheriff of Fayette County have discussed your invitation to participate in the online candidate forum being hosted by The Citizen. Unfortunately, we have decided unanimously not to participate in this forum, in this format.

“While we have chosen not to participate in this forum, please understand that we are not opposed to discussing our positions on issues or responding to citizens’ questions involving the sheriff’s election. Citizens with legitimate questions or concerns may attend any of the published candidate forums or contact us via email or telephone information, which is published on our individual websites.

“The blogs on the online edition of The Citizen contain many slanderous and baseless attacks on the character of each candidate for office. Many things are reported as fact when, in fact, they are little more than rumor or biased personal opinions transparently disguised as fact.

“We are more than willing to discuss issues related to our campaigns in an open forum where a sense of responsibility on the part of the questioners in important.

“In several threads from various posts online about each of the candidates for sheriff, there have been countless attacks that are completely outlandish, untruthful and defamatory to say the least. We believe that participating in a forum of this type will only invite more of these type comments and be unproductive.

“Besides, we are all busy campaigning for office and responding to baseless anonymous attacks would consume an enormous amount of time which we feel would be better spent on more constructive business.

Barry Babb
Wayne Hannah
Thomas Mindar
David Simmons”

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Submitted by TyroneTerror on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 8:26am.

What makes you think that by NOT answering the questions, you'll save yourself from the negative blogging? Its going to happen whether you like it or not. I personally don't know much about any of you, and it looks like I won't anytime soon.

From your "joint" letter above it seems that you want me to come to you and ask for answers. Guess what, you are running to be MY Sheriff. You want MY vote. You decided to try and convince me to vote for you. Seems to me that you should be doing all you can to give me information, not avoiding questions.

Uneducated (not educated about the candidates)voters are the WORST type. Unfortunately, there are many amongst us that can't attend a so called "Open Forum". Work and family commitments prevent them from attending so they depend on the media for information.

So Thomas Mindar, Barry Babb, Wayne Hannah, Dave Simmons...What are you afraid of?

Submitted by sageadvice on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 11:45am.

Now ifn we kin split that thar vot five ways sted of four, all ill nede is 21% uf the vote to be leadin!

You won't reegret the writ in fer me, I guaronntee thet!

We nede a "change." vot fer SAGE!

ilockemup's picture
Submitted by ilockemup on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 6:04am.

Randall Johnson and Bruce Jordan are the end of an era. No matter what happened or what was said about them, Randall and Bruce let it run off their backs. They took it like men. When you are in law enforcement, you have people trying real hard to do something really physical and really bad to cops. Like Jeffrey Allen. These four Sheriff candidates do not fit the same mold and I have real doubt if they can take the heat. The ridiculous part is that all the negative blogging is coming from the other candidate's supporters. Looks like we are going to end up with a woosie for Sheriff. Give Bruce credit-- he had backbone.

MajorMike's picture
Submitted by MajorMike on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 12:23pm.

I agree only in part with what you say although it does appear to be sincere and..... I am not another candidate’s supporter.

First of all I don't credit Bruce for backbone as much as lack of common sense. While Bruce did have many fine qualities and was arguably one of finest investigators in the southeast, he had little in the way of political skills. The fact that he let things "roll off his back" was due to arrogance more than anything else.

Unfortunately, the end of an era for Randall Johnson was six or eight years ago at least. By that time he had turned most of the department operations over to Bruce and, to my view, ran for reelection only because it was apparent to most people that Bruce was not yet ready to be Sheriff. In waiting as long as he did to fire Bruce and doing it in the manner he did, Randal pretty much destroyed what would otherwise have been seen as a sterling career. If anyone out there really believes that Bruce was fired for that ball trip mess then I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

That being said, I do agree with you that any of the four will have a hard time filling the shoes of what Randal Johnson was. I am going to have a hard time pulling this lever for any of the four when election time rolls around. I believe that people need to understand that law enforcement is simply a business much the save as any other service organization. While none are perfect, it has become more than apparent to many that the FCSO needs immediate and drastic improvement in many areas. The policies and tactics that provided success in the past for the most part no longer work. Stonewalling the people, or in this case the newspaper, is shear stupidity in the information age.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 2:53pm.

MajorMike, You and I have been at polar opposites of virtually every issue since you've been here, but I have to admit you have gotten the current state of the FCSO exactly right.

Nature abhors a vacuum, so when the Sheriff's heir presumptive Bruce Jordan was terminated it upset the natural order of things here in Fayette county.

So now we are treated to the garish spectacle of four sheriff-wannabees getting together for yucks and breakfast and deciding that they would collectively thumb their noses at the citizens of Fayette county.

Like you said in your earlier post, Sheriff Johnson stayed on a term or two too long. Financial discipline and internal controls within the sheriff's department seemed to have vanished, and all four candidates seem to be singularly disinterested in disrupting the taxpayer-funded gravy train.

To a man, they have indicated that the Sheriff's department will be run as a petty little fiefdom within the county, free of any sort of accountability. Sadly, this last episode has convinced me that none of the announced candidates for sheriff is up to the job.

Submitted by sageadvice on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 7:16am.

Ain't asked Bruce yet, but i want him as my Chief Ass't when elected.
We wil giterdun!
Jes vote "SAGE" as a writ in vot.
However no books, no copters!

Submitted by CI5835 on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 11:58pm.

the citizens competitor site? I didn't think so. That is because there aren't any. They specifically state that they welcome your comments and require that you ID yourself. I cannot speak to the identification part as I and an anonymous blogger myself. However, I keep my comments tasteful and free of baseless attacks and libelous spin. Maybe the Citizen should begin to follow their competitors lead or atleast start to seriously crack down on what is being written on this side. Just as their is no unlimited and unrestricted right to own and carry firearms there is also no unlimited and unrestricted right to free speach. Some of what is on this site goes far beyond ones right to freedom of speech and it needs to be corrected. Get it together Cal.

Submitted by sageadvice on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 7:23am.

If there are no blogs, how can we read them?

Are you saying that The Citizen should or should not require I.D.?
You get nothing with i.d., plenty without it!

Free speech means everything goes except yell "fire" in a crowed theater when there isn't a fire, and similar things as that!
Naming someone by their proper name and accusing them of something is yelling fire.
Cal has explained in some detail what goes on here--I don't even like those restrictions very much.
This is not a tea party site!

Submitted by ograce on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 8:08pm.

I am very disappointed in the candidates for sheriff and their decision to not participate in the forum the Citizen is having. In all probability I will not get to meet them and these articles help me make my decision on who to vote for. Their comment, “Besides, we are all busy campaigning for office and responding to baseless anonymous attacks would consume an enormous amount of time which we feel would be better spent on more constructive business." is the most lame, ill-conceived I have ever seen. Do they not realize that baseless attacks will be a daily thing for them in this job? We have all heard it said over and over that all prisoners say they are innocent. So who do most blame for being where they are, the officer who put them there like the Sheriff!

This job is tough with tough decisions. Many will hate them and few will love them for doing their job, some will even wish them harm! To see the candidates leery of mere "QUESTIONS", (that can be refused because of wrong information or baseless attacks), shows a definite lack of being able to handle most of the stuff that will be coming straight for THEM and makes one wonder what do they have to hide, it really makes me want to look for a write in candidate.

I am sorry but this job requires a substantial backbone and all the candidates seem to had theirs go a little soft. Anyone out there really interested in and qualified for becoming a write in candidate? If any of the candidates for other races decide to follow suit, I WON'T vote for those who opt out.

Submitted by fay79isus on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 7:50pm.

Unanimous vote for closed government. This reminds me of what happened to Fayette Finance Director Pulliam who tried to find out how many vehicles the Sheriff's department had. The response he got: "You, sir, have earned yourself a night in jail." And the drug money obtaind through forefeiture and efforts to get full disclosure? Maybe this pattern of behavior is repeating itself.

Thomas Mindar's picture
Submitted by Thomas Mindar on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 5:51pm.

I am sorry that the public has taken our collective choice, regarding this type of forum, in the wrong way. I can't speak for the other candidates of course, but, we all came to the same conclusion. We would and will answer any questions that the public has on our positions. That wasn't the point.

What we didn't want was anonymous bloggers getting on here and making false accusations and suggestions that we couldn't defend ourselves from. We have been very open in the press and in the public and we all have contact information readily available to anyone that wants it. We have been to several forums and still have two left that are open to the public.

The fact that we all came together on this topic and agreed should let everyone know that we believe in this and feel that participating would only bring negative light to an otherwise fair and open election. Shortly after we went to the Citizen, we all sat down and had breakfast together. That alone should tell you a lot about the character of your candidates.

Again, I am not speaking for the other candidates. I feel that we are all individually running for the position and we are attacking the issues, and not each other. We have ideas on what we want to accomplish and what the public needs from their law enforcement officers. We are open to any suggestions and aren't trying to hide anything from anyone. We encourage you to learn more about us and feel free to contact any of us with any questions.

I would like to add that since this election started, I have learned more about the other candidates. I had already considered Barry Babb a friend and have nothing but respect for him as both a supervisor and a person. Since then, I have talked with both Wayne Hannah and Dave Simmons. I feel that both of these men have excellent leadership abilities and only have your best interests at heart.

Whatever the outcome of this election, I would be proud to work for any of the three and feel that the county will only benefit from your choice for the next Sheriff. Thomas Mindar

Submitted by sageadvice on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 6:33am.

I suppose you will treat this as a "negative" question also, but would you mind answering who paid for all of your breakfasts the day you met?
Was it discounted?
What is your position on food payment, or swap, for officers of the law?
Do any of the officers ever take anything free, or discounted, as far as you know? Do you think these are things you should answer about?
Thank you.

Submitted by lifelongfayette... on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 7:48pm.

"Whatever the outcome of this election, I would be proud to work for any of the three and feel that the county will only benefit from your choice for the next Sheriff. Thomas Mindar"

Does this sound like he may actually realize he doesn't have a chance and will bow out now instead of being very embarrassed when the votes are in? He is saying he "will be" proud to work for any of them... I do agree that the county will benefit from our choice of long as it isn't Mindar!

I do find it classless to enter into an agreement to not become involved in a forum and then actually post a response to that very forum.

Submitted by wildcat on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 7:01pm.

The fact that you guys sat down together and talked speaks volumes. What positive role models you all are! That really does mean a lot to me and I'm going to mention your scenario in the classroom come August!

Regarding the anonymous bloggers getting on and making false accusations.....I think readers forget that you all are cops and anybody that you've ever had to deal with could possible have some kind of vendetta. The loonies would be coming out of the walls and it would be a mess. I think it was a very wise decision.

Tug13's picture
Submitted by Tug13 on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 6:51pm.

Thanks for answering my questions a few weeks ago.
Good luck! Smiling

THE BOSS's picture
Submitted by THE BOSS on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 6:27pm.

Thanks Thomas for your post.

And good luck to you and the other candidates, Barry Babb, Wayne Hannah and David Simmons.

I am sure by the choice of the people, the best man will win.

Submitted by KCW56 on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 3:31pm.

Cal only wants this forum to boost his numbers and to keep the most important race hot and dirty. This site feels like The Enquirer sometimes, nasty.

So, Cal, why don't you (The Citizen) sponsor an open public forum? That would be the classy thing to do, rather than post answers from questions asked by your negative anonymous bloggers who will spin, and spin and spin away on your newspaper.

My respect actually went up for Hannah, Mindar and Babb. Simmons is already a class act!

Submitted by wheeljc on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 4:45pm.

Do not have a dog in this hunt, but would like to see the best qualified individual win for the sake of this county. Find if just a bit disconcerting for four candidates to fear having an online forum. Folks, more and more is being accomplished ONLINE, and it will increase as gas prices continues to increase. Who knows, they would probably reach more serious voters, vice running around burning gas showing their signs.

One big question for all four: why should folks have confidence in your steadfastness to conquer crime, including gangs, when you appear fearful of an online forum? Could it be that we need to look further for a sheriff? Did your parent ever teach you an old saying that, "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, but Words Will Never Hurt Me"???????

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 3:13pm.

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Cal?

Obviously, the motley bunch of sheriff-wannabees.

Cal, you left out one important question for each candidate:

5. Is your daddy still alive? If so, is he ashamed of the coward that you turned out to be? Public service, particularly senior leadership positions like Sheriff, require you to be upfront and open with questions from the public. Cal is simply asking questions that a lot of us would like answers to. Hiding behind your collective badges is the coward's way out. With this kind of "leadership", should we expect your deputies to follow your example and show a similar lack of courage when the going gets tough in the field?

Is it too late to ask Randall Johnson to serve another term so that he can groom some real professionals to take his place?

Submitted by wheeljc on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 4:52pm.

Think this is sad. The four candidates appear to collectively feel that it is 'all about them' -- vice the folks who would 'hire them'. They apparently do not get the notion that the forum is for the people who want to know more about them, and may not be in a position to travel where they may be speaking. Again sadly, this really speaks volumes on how they might run the Sheriff's Department. Maybe one of them will break out and show some backbone!!!

MajorMike's picture
Submitted by MajorMike on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 4:04pm.

Far be it for me to agree with Sniffles but......... I have to agree with Sniffles on this one. Is this "leadership" or simply "hiding behind a badge"? Fine example indeed!

But, have heart, Sniffy is so wrong about one thing. Have Randall Johnson serve one more term so that he can groom a replacement?? The last "groomee" was Bruce Jordan - how soon we forget.

All youse law enforcement guys can defend your bosses all you want; it still doesn't change the fact that these four are stonewalling very simple requests for pertinent information.

Submitted by skyspy on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 4:19pm.

That would be the 3 candidates that are the most qualified to run for Sheriff. The 4th one doesn't even have a badge.

According to the people at the state who certify police officers, Mindar, Hannah and Babb all have more hours of training than the old retired candidate. Also for all four candidates they list educational background, and a H.S. diploma is the highest level of education listed for all 4. Maybe it is just a "clerical error".

Special request for the 3 candidates Mindar, Hannah, and Babb: please come to a gentleman's agreement. We can't afford to lose 2 of you. I don't know who is going to win, but we can't afford to lose 2 of you and Sheriff Johnson. We have one of the lowest starting salaries of any metro law enforcement agency. We would have a hard time even finding a rookie to apply for your jobs. I know PTC police are short for the same reason, low pay, poor benefits.

Please work it out.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 4:18pm.

Oh Lord, it pains me to say this from the depths of my soul, but MajorHeadwoundMike happens to be right this time...I DID forget about Fayette's grandstanding Bruce Jordan. I am duly chastened.

JeffC's picture
Submitted by JeffC on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 3:43pm.

to be nice to the sheriff candidates if sniffles will kill that bug?

Submitted by skyspy on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 4:20pm.

I like the bug.

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 3:53pm.

I promise. That darn insect has got to go! Sorry snif.
Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Submitted by BRATT on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 2:37pm.

I have long said that the Media would do its best to ruin this country if it is left as is. I for one and proud of all four candidates for refusing to enter into this type of debate. Nobody ever wins except the media.

Submitted by sageadvice on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 4:17pm.

Yeah that fellow in Zimbabwe got rid of his media too. He doesn't like questions either.

MajorMike's picture
Submitted by MajorMike on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 1:10pm.

OK, that tears it. I was leaning toward Minder since he was the only one with enough common sense to propose some changes but now I'll write in Mickey Mouse (or $age)if they give us that option.

I am NOT willing to vote for "more of the same". Law inforcement in Fayette County and indeed law enforcement in general must start making changes to cope with the decline of our society and the skyrocketing crime rate. While drug enforcement has made significant advances, many other areas have suffered. If it's not a violent crime or a crime again'st children, it better put money in the coffers or it just doesn't exist. It's been that way for many years now. Randall Johnson has simply been too busy mentoring Bruce Jordan to be the next sherrif to see that the bad guys don't care where the county line is any more. As one member of the Judiciary put it: "Randall Johnson has not been interested in being Sheriff for a number of years now".

These four candidates need to wake up and smell the roses. John Q. Public has had enough! I suggest that you gentlemen reconsider answering a few common sense questions for The Citizen.


As John Steinbeck once said:

1. I carry a gun cause a cop is too heavy.

2. When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.

Submitted by sageadvice on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 1:40pm.

The Mouse won't run or serve. I will.
What do you mean about option on ballot? Do you mean they would have the gall to not allow a writ-in? They kin chek quals later before the swearin.
Also, i want Bruce as my chief assistant. No books however for my only term.

Submitted by wheeljc on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 11:44am.

Well, guess Sage was way ahead when the 'write in' campaign was announced! Guess that is the way it will go now!! Just imagine the expressions on faces when they see "SAGE FOR SHERIFF" on ballots!!!

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 3:50pm.

I think you are on to something.
Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Submitted by CI5835 on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 11:37am.

now happy campaigning.

Submitted by Abales on Mon, 06/30/2008 - 11:33am.

Way to go Sheriff's Candidates!!!! If I could I would vote for all of you.

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